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Happy 25th Birthday www: and look at the people you've made viral

The 25th anniversary of the world wide web will be celebrated around the globe this week.

The milestone will be marked on Wednesday, a quarter of a century since it was first proposed in 1989 by British computer scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

For anybody under the age of 20 it is hard to imagine what life would be like without the web, which is not to be confused with the internet - a massive chain of networks, which the web uses.

But when Sir Tim first submitted his idea while working at Swiss physics laboratory, Cern, the response from his boss was the brief: "Vague, but exciting."

He went on to develop an invention that has revolutionised the lives of billions, with two out of five people in the world now connected.

Based on his earlier programme for storing information called Enquire, it was designed to allow people to work together by combining their knowledge in a web of hypertext documents.

Analysis: what if the web had never been invented?

Sir Tim wrote the first world wide web server, "httpd", and the first client "WorldWideWeb", a what-you-see-is-what-you-get hypertext browser/editor.

It launched publicly just two-and-a-half years later, on August 6 1991.

Physics graduate Sir Tim originally developed the web to meet the demand for information-sharing between physicists in universities and institutes around the world.

Other information retrieval systems which used the internet - such as WAIS and Gopher - were available at the time, but the web's simplicity, along with the fact that the technology was made royalty-free in 1993, led to its rapid adoption and development.

By late 1993, there were more than 500 known web servers, and the world wide web accounted for 1% of internet traffic. Two decades later, there are an estimated 630 million websites online.

Recent Government statistics show that last year 36 million adults (73%) in Britain accessed the internet every day, with 21 million households (83%) having internet access in 2013.

In 2009 Sir Tim founded the World Wide Web Foundation which has a mission statement to "establish the open web as a global public good and a basic right, ensuring that everyone can access and use it freely".

Its Web Index, first launched in 2012, measures how well different countries around the world are harnessing the benefits of an open and universal web, and last year he spoke of it having highlighted how the internet and social media were being used to expose wrongdoing in the world - leaving some governments threatened.

Speaking in November, he said: ''One of the most encouraging findings of this year's Web Index is how the web and social media are increasingly spurring people to organise, take action and try to expose wrongdoing in every region of the world.

''But some governments are threatened by this, and a growing tide of surveillance and censorship now threatens the future of democracy.

''Bold steps are needed now to protect our fundamental rights to privacy and freedom of opinion and association online.''

That month he also said he backed whistleblowers such as former US intelligence operative Edward Snowden who use the internet to ''protect society's interests''.

Last year Sir Tim was jointly awarded the inaugural £1 million Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering along with fellow internet pioneers Robert Kahn, Vint Cerf, Marc Andreessen and Louis Pouzin.

The internet has give rise to celebrities whose fame and achievements may have otherwise gone unknown in a previous age. Here's a look at some individuals who have been made famous with the help of the world wide web.

:: Edward Snowden: The former National Security Agency contractor turned whistleblower shook the world with his leaking of secret documents in July 2013. Snowden worked with journalist Glenn Greenwald to reveal the extent of mass surveillance programmes such as the NSA-run Prism and the GCHQ-operated Tempora. The leaks were published around the world and have prompted a debate about the role and oversight of security and intelligence services in the US and UK. Snowden was named Person of the Year by US Time magazine in 2013.

:: Justin Bieber: The Canadian pop star's talents were first discovered on YouTube, where he amassed a following of millions after his mother began posting videos of him singing cover versions of R&B songs. Bieber's YouTube renditions soon bought him to the attention of Justin Timberlake and Usher, who entered a bidding war to the sign the 13-year-old to their record labels. Justin eventually signed to Usher's Raymond Braun Media Group. and first full-length studio album, My World 2.0, made Bieber the youngest solo male artist to top the US Billboard 200 since Stevie Wonder.

:: Julian Assange: Assange first established the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks in 2006, but only came to international prominence when the site published thousands of United States military and diplomatic cables in partnership with a number of media organisations in 2010. The leaks, which included battlefield video clips and classified reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, came from US Army Intelligence Private Bradley Manning. In April last year, WikiLeaks published more than 1.7 million US records covering diplomatic or intelligence reports on every country in the world. Much of the work was carried out by Mr Assange from the confines of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been living since the summer of 2012 to avoid deportation to Sweden.

:: Arctic Monkeys: The Sheffield-born rockstars were the first artists to "go viral" before the term itself was known. The indie rockers built up a virtual fanbase by gigging locally and then giving away their songs on Myspace.com. The band reached widespread attention with their video of I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor in 2005 and later went on to have the fast-selling debut album in British music history.

:: Stephen Fry: The English Renaissance man was best known in Britain as one half of the comedy duo Fry and Lawrie and his appearances on Blackadder in the 90s. But the technology enthusiast was one of the earlier adopters of the social networking site Twitter and has a global following of more than 6.5 million users. Fry regularly uses his Twitter account and his corresponding website to promote causes such as gay rights and mental health awareness.

:: Psy: The creator of the Gangnam Style dance craze had the first video to reach a billion views on YouTube in 2012. The K-Pop artist's signature moves have bought him international fame, with the Gangnam style even having been attempted by Prime Minister David Cameron and Boris Johnson, according to the London Mayor. Psy has also had an audience with President Obama and was even hailed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as a "force for world peace."

:: Commander Chris Hadfield: The former commander of the International Space Station went viral after he recorded a video of a version of David Bowie's Space Oddity. The retired Canadian astronaut used social media to record his final space mission with the ISS in May 2013, uploading videos and pictures of his daily life to his one million followers. His version of Space Oddity, which was recorded on board the space station, has been seen 22 million times on YouTube.

:: The Kardashian-Jenner family: Reality television stars the Kardashians have been labelled the "most famous family in TV" by Forbes magazine, and much of the American clan's ubiquity derives from their presence on social media. The moves and fashion choices of sisters Kourtney, Kim, and Khloe, as well as their mother Kris are documented daily on their on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook accounts, while their younger half-sisters Kendall and Kylie Jenner have also become stars in their own right as fashion designers and models. Middle sister Kim, who is engaged to rapper Kanye West, has 20 million Twitter followers alone.

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